Inception is without a doubt the most anticipated film of the summer. Director Christopher Nolan, the man who brought us The Dark Knight, The Prestige and Memento, has put together an all star cast for his latest outing. The hype for the film has been extensive and Inception is a film people have been talking about for a very long time.
Almost every early review has been positive and the people who have already seen the film can’t stop talking about it. The question on everyone’s mind is, did Inception live up to its hype and is it really better than The Dark Knight, or is it just another big summer blockbuster that will soon be forgotten?
Original, ambitious, imaginative and mind blowing, Inception is not only the film that we as moviegoers have been waiting for, but it’s the film that we as moviegoers deserve. In a summer, actually in a year, with such a poor selection of films, Inception manages to provide us with a movie that is by far the best movie of 2010 thus far and will probably still be the best movie of the year come December.
Inception is an astonishing achievement in filmmaking. It’s inventive and creative to a degree that I’ve never before seen in film. Director Christopher Nolan has outdone himself, forget The Dark Knight, this is his masterpiece, with Inception he has truly crafted a work of art.
From the extravagant set pieces and enthralling action sequences to the captivating visuals and top notch acting, everything about Inception screams impeccable. Inception isn’t just a film that meets our expectations, it transcends them and in every way possible. It’s a brilliant tour de force and is director Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus.
While it’s best to go into the film not knowing anything, providing a small summary won’t hurt. Don Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an expert thief. He’s not a thief in the normal sense of the word, instead he’s a subconscious thief. He specializes in extracting and stealing secrets from the subconscious while the person is dreaming. When tragedy strikes and Cobb’s life is torn apart he is forced to go on the run as an international fugitive.
Cobb yearns for his old life and when he gets the opportunity to have it back he jumps at the chance. The catch is that Cobb must pull off a daring heist. Instead of stealing an idea from someone’s mind he must plant one. Accepting the job, Cobb puts together a team to aid him with the heist and he sets off to get his old life back.
To say anymore would be criminal but what was mentioned above is just one layer of this incredibly deep, thought out, intricate and absolutely mesmerizing plot. Storytelling is an art and Nolan has mastered it. The story is nothing short of genius. It is so detailed and well written and as an audience Nolan fully engages us right from the start. The story is not simple and you will have to pay attention to every scene to keep up with it but in the end you’ll be stunned by the complexity of it all.
Nolan creates a whole new world in Inception, the world of the dream. The world of the dream has its own laws, paradoxes and rules by which it operates. It may seem daunting at first but as Nolan pulls you in you can’t help but to become completely fascinated and intrigued by what you’re watching. It turns out to be mentally stimulating rather than confusing and second and third viewings of the film are a must.
Nolan manages to stay one step ahead of us for the whole film. He has us wondering and guessing in every scene and even at a 2 and half hour run time there is literally not one monotonous or lackluster scene. Not one scene runs on too long, no dialogue feels unnecessary and no shot lingers on. The editing and pacing are handled with precision and fluidity. This film could of gone on for another hour and I wouldn’t have cared.
Editor Lee Smith does a wonderful job as he cuts the film together in a proficient manner. The editing in this movie is honestly a miracle. At one point Smith has to cut four parallel story lines of action together and he is able to do so while still keeping the audience fully entranced and on the edge of their seats. It’s hard to explain why the editing is so astonishing without giving away plot details but once you see the film you will understand.
Complementing the editing is Wally Pfister’s jaw dropping cinematography. The film is a visual masterpiece and is a marvel to watch. The cinematography magnifies the scope of the film as it provides expansive photography shot in six different countries. With Inception we get some visually arresting landscapes that will no doubt impress even the most jaded of viewers.
Grandiose visual effects litter the film and some of them are truly mind blowing. One scene in particular, a fight scene in a zero gravity building, was completely mind bending and absolutely brilliant.
Adding even more to the film is the beautiful and haunting score by master composer Hans Zimmer. I’m going to be honest, I usually don’t pay much attention to the score in films and rarely do I make a big deal over them. Inception was different though. Zimmer’s majestic and triumphant score adds so much to the film. I was fully aware of it throughout the whole film and found myself waiting for it to kick in again during the scenes where it was absent. The score perfectly infuses a sense of urgency into the action sequences while amplifying the awe-inspiring scope of the film.
As the director, Nolan manages to produce an unparalleled level of intensity in Inception. The whole movie is exciting but especially in the later scenes it’s almost impossible not to be hanging onto the edge of your seat. The film completely envelops you and draws you in. At times it’s almost exhausting trying to keep up with everything that is going on but it proves for one hell of a ride. Not only is the relentless action completely engaging but Nolan has given Inception some true heart.
Cobb is the emotional centre of the film and the romantic plot line between him and Mal (Marion Cotillard) is handled surprisingly well for a film of this nature. Usually romances are handled haphazardly in action/thriller films. This is not the case here, Nolan creates a truly moving and emotional romantic subplot between the two and their relationship is an essential part of the film. Inception is very much about love and loss and the themes play an important part in the film. Don’t go in thinking this movie is all about the action, in fact, you may find your eyes are wet with tears in some scenes, it gets that emotional.
The sheer brilliance of the film continues to shine through when it comes to the acting. Aside from Michael Caine, who literally had maybe 5-10 lines and was criminally underused, everyone else is fantastic.
DiCaprio shows once again why he is one of the top actors in Hollywood. He anchors the film and exudes confidence as he takes charge of every scene. A large part of the film’s success rests on DiCaprio and he does deliver. As the audience we completely buy into his situation. We believe in his journey and we sympathize with his situation. His performance is remarkable and he keeps us emotionally engaged.
The supporting roles are a bit less fleshed out but all the actors that make up this fine ensemble provide terrific performances.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, undoubtedly one of the most talented young actors working in Hollywood today, plays Arthur, Dom’s right hand man and longtime partner. Levitt shows just how much he has matured from when he first broke out back in Mysterious Skin. He plays the role with a great degree of professionalism and takes his part seriously. You can see he is giving it his best shot and he is very passionate about the film. He doesn’t try to compete with DiCaprio in anyway and this works out for the best.
Ellen Page, who you may remember from Juno is also another undoubtedly talented young actress and like Levitt, she offers a very good performance. She has matured a lot since Juno and she is able to hold her own on screen in every scene. She has a lot of 1 on 1 scenes with Leo and she performs them wonderfully. Her character is charming and enjoyable to watch and Page proves to be a great addition to the cast.
Tom Hardy is an actor who I wasn’t all that familiar with when I went into the film. His most noticeable role was in Bronson but after this film I’m hoping he gets some more recognition. Hardy, like Page and Levitt, plays another member of Cobb’s team. Hardy is the comedic relief in the film. Spot on timing and witty one liners are his specialty and he provides some genuine laughs. His character’s arrogant attitude and his clashing with Levitt’s character Arthur provides for some welcome humor when things get intense. He delves into his role with gusto and forges an immensely watchable character. He is charismatic and charming and will connect with audiences.
Rounding out the main cast are Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy. Murphy, who plays Robert Fischer Jr., the target of this heist, is terrific in the role. As the audience, you actually feel sympathy for his situation and although he comes off as cold at first, you will grow to like his character by the end. Watanabe also gives a solid performance, not as good as in The Last Samurai, but a respectable performance nonetheless. His accent makes it a bit hard to understand him sometimes but he conveys emotion more through his actions than his words. He brings heart to a character whose morals are in a grey zone.
Lastly there’s Cotillard who plays Cobb’s love interest. Like Cobb, her character is also essential to the emotional pull of the film. Cottilard does a great job in the role of Mal as she exudes a sense of vulnerability while seducing audiences into feeling sympathy for her character.
I had the chance to see Inception twice before it hit theaters and I can honestly say I will probably see it a third time once it is released, it’s simply that good. The ending, shrouded in ambiguity, begs audiences to see the film multiple times and the complexity of the plot means that with each viewing you will surely pick up on and understand more.
An audacious film no doubt, Inception is a film that could have easily become a mess. Luckily Nolan, being the gifted director that he is, juggles everything perfectly and is able to execute a film that is truly a masterpiece.
Drawing evidently from films like James Bond and The Matrix, Nolan directs the film like a true professional. He unassailably draws you into this world as he symphonically creates a stunning work of art. Inception isn’t a film you should see, it is a film you must see. Oozing with originality, infused with inventiveness, and undeniably brilliant, Inception is the best movie I’ve seen in a very, very long time.